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Menu Recommendations for dinner for 17 in Winter

My husband is graduating from grad school this December and we are having some of his family members fly in for the weekend to celebrate. It'll be a mixed crowd of foodies, non foodies and two kids. I'm looking for dishes that I can prepare ahead of time or that are relativly easy to prepare as the ceremony is in the afternoon and then everyone is coming to our house so I won't have much time in between. I was thinking of lasagna and salad with an antipasto starter but that is what I always do with big crowds so wanted to see if anyone had any recommendations.


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  1. Moosewood Lowfat Vegetarian Cooking has a great recipe for sweet potato and black bean burritos--I've also found a similar recipe online. I make it all the time when I'm having people over for a casual dinner--but could be dressed up. Meat eaters, foodies, kids, veggies, everyone loves it. I serve mine with homemade salsa and sour cream (fat free works well, even)... One note, don't use a food processor, use a potato masher, the end product will have a more interesting texture.

    1. I think lasagna is the way to go.

      1. what about a ham? Crowds tend to like a good glazed ham, and you could make scalloped potatoes in advance and just warm them after the ceremony. Serve with some brocoli or a nice green salad, and biscuits if you have time. That's a great winter crowd pleaser.

        1. I just made the most awesome cannaloni with ground turkey, and a mix of marinara and a white bechamel sauce. I made the turkey filling 2 days ahead and stuffed them the afternoon before serving. They were tender, and delicious, the sauce was outstanding and they baked up in about 40 mins. Needless to say they were gone, gone. The are perfect for a large party and I will do these for Christmas. I get a little tired of lasagne and the red sauce, this was much more delicate.

          1. Brisket, beef stew, veggie or meat chili.

            1. oooh...could you spare the turkey filling recipe for the cannelloni?...i would use fresh lasagna noodles to fill and roll...do you do something different?...thanks

              1. i've always had success with hot casseroles of lamb curry, meatballs and/or a hearty stew, cold poached salmon, rice pilaf, room temp asparagus with a light vinaigrette, green salad...add more starches such as pasta salad, couscous,or potato gratin...depending on how many guests...always remember to calculate for available oven space to heat everything at the same time!...all this can be prepared well in advance and just reheated later...just toss salad and celebrate...you can make a great english trifle for dessert...use lots of berries,pineapple,mango, etc, whipped cream, cake, caramel sauce...mix up in gorgeous glass bowl and let sit in fridge for a day...add some oatmeal cookies, brownies, etc and you're done...congrats on your husband's achievement...sandra

                1. I'm new here so pardon if I've posted or responded in the wrong place.

                  Turkey canneloni filling:
                  1 lb
                  1 med onion chop fine 1/4 inch dice all veggies
                  1 carrot "
                  1 stalk of celery "
                  5 garlic cloves doesn't matter it will cook down
                  Fresh basil leaves for later
                  herbs - 1/2 tsp of each dried basil, oregano, salt pepper, onion powder, herbs de provence, thyme leaves, red pepper flakes
                  heavy cream
                  chicken broth
                  romano cheese

                  Saute the turkey in olive oil on low - do not over cook to where the meat gets-crunchy just cooked thru - remove and set aside- it gives it a veal texture
                  saute the onion, celery carrot and then add the garlic last as not to burn - saute gently again add all of the dry herbs
                  Add the meat back to the pan with the herbs- and add 1/3 cup of cream -and 1/3 cup broth remove and let it rest/cool
                  Let this rest in the frige to thicken up - I waited 1 day

                  The next day mix 1/2 cup fontina with the meat mix
                  1 jar -plain marinara sauce any brand
                  Pasta- canneloni tubes or make your own crepes
                  I used the tubes and cooked them for 3 mins drained and then set them on a tea towel to dry

                  In a 9x13 cassarole dish. I poured enough marinara sauce to cover the bottom'

                  In a saute pan - I made a roux- 4 tablespoons of butter with about 3 or 4 Tablespoons of flour- thicken this mix with milk - I used 1% and added more garlic and as the sauce thickend would add milk to the consistensy I like, then grated about 1/2 tsp of fresh nutmeg. It was pretty thick I thinned it with beef broth from a can ( you can use chicken)Then I grated about 1/2 cup of romano and added that to the sauce. Salt&pepper to taste'

                  Stuff the cannelloni and then let them sit while you're making the bechamel. Then grate more fontina and romano cheese for the top about 1/2 cup each
                  When done, pour some of the marinara in three strips over the pasta, then cover with the bechamel and then a little more marinara.top with nore romano and chiffinade about 10 fresh basil leaves for the top. cover with foil bake at 350 degrees for about 35-40 mins/ You can brown top if you want by uncovering, I didn't.
                  Let it rest before you serve - like lasagne, it will fall so give it a few minuetes.
                  i hope I didn't leave anything out, this was an improve dinner the other night that just turned out great.
                  I made scoozie bread too with fresh basil, red onion garlic, olive oil, roamno cheese, balsamic salsa
                  We just loved it so much more than lasagne- it was not as heavy

                  1 Reply
                  1. If you make lasagna for 17 you could make two kinds, a traditional one that would please everyone including the kids and a more ususual one to please the "foodies" (butternut squash, wild-mushroom). It might be fun to add to your Italian theme by toasting with some Italian-inspired cocktails (limoncello or grappa).

                    To extend on jenhen2's ham idea, you could serve rolls/bread and mustards/chutneys for sandwiches. I also find pork loin to be no-fuss. You can lard it with garlic and rub or tie it with herbs a day or two ahead and just roast it while you reheat the potato gratin (or side of your choice). Kids and adults also seem to enjoy baked macaroni and cheese. It goes well with pork and is reheatable.

                    Congrats to your husband (and you!)!

                    1. Well - thanks everyone for the suggestions. In the end, I've decided to stick with the lasagna (though I really did like the idea of the cold poached salmon, rice pilaf, aspargus, salad and triffle - i just know that there aren't enough fish eaters in the group...). I'm going to make three different kinds - my family recipe; baked pasta with tomatoes, shitake mushrooms and prociutto; sausage and wild mushroom lasagne with red sauce.

                      Anyone have a good winter salad recipe to go with lasagna?